Thursday, December 10, 2015

Springer Link Ethics Journal Editors Do Something Unethical

Addendum 22 February 2016:  The journal Science and Engineering Ethics changes the formatting of their online articles during the publication process.  While the initial format of the Kern et al. (2015) review listed full author affiliations as they appeared in my first post, Conflicts of Interest are Bad, Just Not Our Own, the author affiliation are obscured now as they are in other online articles in Science and Engineering Ethics.  The author affiliations are apparent in the .pdf version.  For that Springer Link and their journal editors of Science and Engineering Ethics have my sincere apology.  However, I still stand fully behind my first post regarding this review article and given the massive undeclared conflicts of interest all the authors have and the self-serving nature of their review, this review should be retracted.

Springer Link's editors of Science and Engineering Ethics have pulled a sleight-of-hand since my last post about this spectacularly bad "review article" about conflicts of interest and transparency by a dodgy group of authors who didn't declare their own profound conflicts of interest.  Rather than retract this egregious example of dishonesty and peer-review failure, the editors simply and quietly removed the authors' affiliations.  The affiliations appear in my previous post but have been disappeared without explanation from the article. The description of Science and Engineering Ethics appears thusly:
Science and Engineering Ethics is a multi-disciplinary journal that explores ethical issues of direct concern to scientists and engineers. Coverage encompasses professional education, standards and ethics in research and practice, extending to the effects of innovation on society at large.

Recent controversies and instances of misconduct in science have attracted considerable media attention. In addition, the power of new technologies developed through science and engineering - especially as portrayed by the media - have inspired growing popular concern. Science and Engineering Ethics offers a forum for the examination and discussion of ethical issues arising in the practice of scientific research and engineering, and in the practical application of that work.

Although the focus of this publication is science and engineering, contributions from a broad range of disciplines are included.
Yet here the very editors of an ethics journal engage in a violation of ethics and commit misconduct by deleting author affiliations and allowing a completely dishonest Conflict of Interest statement remain.   As per Retraction Watch, the relevant research integrity office at the authors' institution should be contacted first.  That poses some difficulty here since most of the authors are employed by the same incestuous network of businesses and "charities" run by themselves.  I do know for a fact that the editors of Science and Engineering Ethics were contacted directly and the action that they have chosen flies in the face of publication ethics.  In any event they are:

SJ Bird:

RE Spier:

Institutional research compliance contacts for those authors who do have them are:
Helene Lake-Bullock
Research Compliance Officer, University of Kentucky
Re: Boyd Haley

Gary S. Margules
Vice President, Office of Research and Technology Transfer, Nova Southeastern University
Re: Richard Deth

Danielle Beck
IRB Chair, IRB Simpson University
Re: Brian Hooker

Systematic Assessment of Research on Autism Spectrum Disorder and Mercury Reveals Conflicts of Interest and the Need for Transparency in Autism Research is an egregious example of hypocrisy and should have been retracted but the editors doubled-down on publication misconduct by disappearing author affiliations which point to the plethora of conflicts of interest the authors have.  Shame on Springer Link.

My deep gratitude to capnkrunch who spotted this sleight-of-hand and brought it to my attention along with some contact information.


  1. Well, I emailed the people and left a tip at Retraction Watch. I have a bad feeling that this is a losing battle.

    I don't even care about the paper at this point. It is well known that the authors are dishonest.

    What really bothers me is the editors. Not coming from an academic background this is my first first-hand experience of such misconduct and it is rather disturbing.

    1. I feel the same way. Peer-review and editorial oversight are gate-keepers for published works and a "stamp of approval" for the quality of work to some degree. I loathe predator publishing, ghost-writing and just plain sloppy editors. They all weaken the validity of published science.

  2. Looks like the affiliations are there, but they're just hidden behind a mouse-over. You need to hover over the authors' names to find their affiliations.

    1. This appears to be something that they've changed across the board for all of their journals. While not as unethical as removing the affiliations altogether, it is a tad shady obscuring it in this fashion. The affiliation info should be readily apparent and available, and I'd argue that it should be visible if one goes to print the page or do a screenshot.

    2. Good catch Todd. I suppose you miss this kind of thing when you only use your phone for browsing.

      On the plus side, since the various schools still have their names on this, maybe they will be more likely to move on it.

  3. I could be wrong Todd but that is only recent. I did hover over author names previously and nothing appeared. They also omitted the address for "Institute of Chronic Illness" which one can see is a home address and owned by Mark Geier. It is very shady indeed. The entire article is a joke (or should be).

    1. It's not recent. It shows that you rarely read peer review, that's all. Read the peer review and stop providing false data. Here are 1000 peer reviewed reports from 100s of authors and from the most respected journals in the world.

    2. Geiers address is not a home address. You'd know that with just a tad bit of research. It's a medical center for Autistic children.

    3. Oh really Prager? A 4,300 sq ft, 3.5 bath, single family home in a residential neighbourhood is a "medical center for autistic children?"
      No, it's where they tortured autistic children in the basement shop of horrors they built.

  4. I heard back from the University of Kentucky ORI. Apparently Undisclosed financial COI's is outside their purview.

  5. Science Mom, I published this free eBook yesterday specifically with you in mind. Here are 1000 peer reviewed reports in chronological order, 1915-2015, on vaccines. You should read it and stop giving out false data. You should be ashamed.

    Jeff Prager
    Founder & Publisher - retired
    Senior Magazine

    1. Anyone who doesn't vet their own quotes that are notoriously fabricated isn't exactly on sure-footing. Also one who doesn't know the difference between drugs and biologicals nor how to actually parse the literature is in any position to lecture me.

    2. I barely stomached my way through the "peer-reviewed" garbage....I lost count of many bad studies and opinion pieces I found....Prager needs to get some better material.

    3. It seems like Mr. Prager embraces lots of conspiracy theories.

    4. I'm ashamed that a loser like Prager lives in my home state of AZ. Do you have any qualifications Prager other than the ability to spew crap from a keyboard?